Once a fringe notion favored by tech geeks, the Metaverse which puts forward a vision of a centralized virtual realm, a “place” parallel to the actual world, has exploded into the popular scene this year, as shown by Facebook’s October rebranding as Meta. Hybrid workplaces, video-based schooling, and online social groups are just a few examples of how we devote more and more time in digital spaces, for better or ill. You may shed your physical body and transform into an avatar who lives a pixel-created existence of your choice in the Metaverse.
Let’s clear up the air by clarifying the most evident aspect – what exactly is the Metaverse? While it sounds like a dystopian promise, the phrase “Metaverse” is a mashup of the prefix “meta” (meaning beyond) and “universe”. It is often referred to as the concept of a future iteration of the internet composed of permanent, shared, three-dimensional virtual places connected into a perceived virtual world.
Well, what is meant to happen in this Metaverse, and how does it work? People live in it in the form of avatars, and they essentially do the same things they would do in real life, but in virtual reality: socialize, attend events, shopping, and work. Whether in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or just on a screen, the Metaverse holds the potential of allowing a larger overlap between our digital and physical lives in terms of wealth, socializing, productivity, commerce, and entertainment.
How it all started…
People have been attempting to construct immersive virtual worlds since the 1960s, a goal fueled by the world-building endeavors of both the film and video game industries. Second Life, an alt-reality video game where you interact via an avatar and may do anything and everything — such as buy a home or get married — is one of the most often mentioned instances of the Metaverse. It was founded in 2003 and is one of the most popular examples of the early Metaverse. It was such a realistic world that it had a booming kink culture — it doesn’t get much more realistic.
Neal Stephenson has coined the word “Metaverse” in his 1992 book Snow Crash, which alluded to a 3D virtual environment populated by avatars of actual people. Many other science fiction works feature Metaverse-like systems (some of them predating Snow Crash). However, Stephenson’s book, along with Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One, continues to be one of the most popular sources of information among Metaverse aficionados.
Examples from the Metaverse
Today, Roblox and Epic Games’ Fortnite are often mentioned as the primary Metaverse examples, and some believe that they are far closer to bringing the Metaverse to life than Zuckerberg’s Meta. Both games fit the requirements for enduring digital environments, as they both have millions of users that congregate to play and socialize, where there is some permanence in things (clothes and skins), and where there is some money (Robux and V-Bucks).
What does the future hold for the Metaverse?
Consumers will flock to the Metaverse for gaming and entertainment. At the same time, companies will likely experiment with virtual reality meetings to improve cooperation and push training to the next level with completely simulated surroundings. The Metaverse, which has long been considered a future fantasy, is swiftly becoming a reality.
The influence of the Metaverse on present and future businesses will be immense. New firms, goods, and services will develop to handle everything in the new integrated virtual-physical world, including online gaming and virtual banking, securities, fashion, and other aspects of daily life.
Some may call it the successor of the internet, but the Metaverse might be much more than that… Imagine that it is the year 2057. Using a virtual reality headset, you’ve just returned from a concert on the moon where a robotic Lady Gaga was performing with a robot version of yourselves. Unfortunately, you found it terrible. Technology, it seems, can’t solve everything.